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Sideshow WoW Diorama 30% Discount Only Through January 30th

As reported recently, Sideshow Collectibles ran a poll to decide which product would get the 30% discount axe.  Because You voted, Sideshow has deemed the WoW Diorama winner of the poll.  The World of Warcraft Blood Elf Rogue vs. Draenei Paladin Polystone Diorama is now available at $209.99 ONLY through January 30th and while supplies last. Go grab yours here.

A copy of this diorama will arrive to my home soon. Expect a review and video footage of this awesome polystone statue on Worldofwar.net

Sideshow: Our first Vote for your Discount promotion is now over. The Blood Elft Vs Draenei Paladin Diorama won and is available at a 30% discount for January 30th 2009 only! Place your in-stock order today! Click Here. Offer good only while supplies last.

BlizzCast 7 Released

Blizzard just released the BlizzCast 7 podcast packed with interviews about World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.  Nethaera interviews Production Director, J. Allen Brack to find out why of all the possible expansions the developers decided to work with Northrend; and the difficulty of choosing the Hero Class they would work on.

Jeff Kaplan answers what they learned from Burning Crusade. It was pretty hard on the servers to handle every player on Hellfire Peninsula. That’s how they decided to create two entry points: Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord to lessen the stress on the servers, and to minimize the impact of players killing specific mobs in the same area. Kaplan explains Phase Technology more thoroughfully in this interview using the Wrathgate as reference. It is hinted that at some point in future expansions we will fight Deathwing and Sargeras.

In BlizzCast 7 you can also find Crygil interviewing Senior Vice President of Creative Development, Chris Metzen to discuss the lore of Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade expansions. The two important plots brought up by Metzen in this interview is the conspiracy of a figure that has kept the dragonflights busy with different schemes removing their focus on what their purpose was meant to be. And that includes Deathwing. He hasn’t been protecting the Earth. What powers above are behind this conspiracy? That’s something that the World of Warcraft story progression will eventually unfold.

The other interesting bit of info from this BlizzCast 7 interview is that the creative team has been discussing what to do next about Medivh.  A hint that a new champion or guardian could arise to handle the current threat to the world (Arthas). That this new guardian could come from other than the Humans. That’s quite interesting because as of World of Warcraft # 15 comic book we have found out about a prophecy that sets Garona’s half-human, part-orc-draenei son as savior of Azeroth. Is Garona’s son eventually becoming the new Guardian of Tirisfal? Will this story eventually tie-in with the Lich King dungeon?

You can download BlizzCast 7 here, and an excerpt is available too.

  • During early development of WoW Classic, two expansions had been planned from the beginning: Northrend and Outland. Warcraft III: Frozen Throne and WoW Classic were developed simultaneously at the time. It was a matter of which of the two to release first. Outland was the one decided on for a feeling of returning home with a Northrend expansion.
  • From 29 possible Hero Classes, it was skimmed down to three possible options: Necromancer, Runemaster or Death Knight.
  • 140 people were behind the development of Wrath of the Lich King with support from many other teams.
  • The lore team is composed of less than 10 people, including Chris Metzen.
  • Phasing Technology is used as a story telling technique
  • Ulduar will have a 10-players and 25-players option.

Sideshow Collectibles Vote Call: 30% Off World of Warcraft Diorama

Sideshow Collectibles just informed me they have a special Voting Poll to knock 30% off one out of three choices. If you cast your vote now, and the World of Warcraft Blood Elf Rogue vs. Draenei Paladin Diorama wins the poll, Sideshow will be offering a $100 discount on Friday, January 30th. The retail price is normally $299. Hurry up and cast your vote. The poll won’t last long. Cast your vote here.

Would you like to save over $16 on Padme Amidala – Llum Mission 12-inch Figure, over $67 on the Grey Hulk Legendary Scale Bust or $100 on the Blood Elf VS Draenei Paladin Diorama? Cast a vote for your favorite discount and be sure to visit SideshowCollectilbes.com on Friday, January 30th for a chance to grab the winning collectible at its greatly reduced price! Please note: This sale will be available for 24 hours on January 30th and only while supplies last.

Wrath of the Lich King Patch 3.0.8a Released

Earlier today, Blizzard released a new minor patch on US Realms during the Tuesday maintenance schedule. Some of these class, race or gender bugs had been acknowledged and reported by Blizzard when the original Patch 3.0.8 was deployed. It’s nice to see that the devs worked around the clock to release them this quick. Nethaera sent us word immediately. You can read the patch notes and any updates here.

Patch 3.0.8a resolves the following bugs:

Blizzard Quote:
General

  • Human females Helms will no longer lift off the character’s head during a Special2H animation or during a HoldRifle animation.

Death Knights

  • Howling Blast : The 5 second cooldown will now display correctly.

Hunters

  • All Hunter aspects are no longer on the global cooldown that is shared with other Hunter abilities. All hunter aspects are now on a separate 1 second cooldown.

Warlocks

  • Ritual of Summoning will now function as intended.

Garona Officially Orc-Draenei Half-breed

imageMy copy arrived today by mail. It is now official. Garona is half-draenei according to World of Warcraft # 15. For the first time, the official comic book has a Cast of Characters section at the back, on the last page. The profile for Garona says:

“An orc-draenei half-breed, trained from childhood as an assassin.”

Many years ago, ex-WoW Community Manager Katricia had a slip of tongue and claimed Garona to be half-draenei. This has been a long debated topic among lore scholars. But now the debate has been put to rest. The return of Garona and the revelation of her half-human son has made the comic book become a magnet for World of Warcraft lore enthusiasts. The new story arc has made this comic book very interesting. You should subscribe or pick this issue soon to get hooked to the series. Those wondering who Meryl is, this is his profile:

“A powerful undead mage , he has survived for thousands of years by the strength of his own magic.  An original member of the now defunct Council of Tirisfal, he is now Med’an’s guardian and mentor.”

Rare Interracial Couples and Hybrids in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is no stranger to interracial marriages or hybrids. There are many examples throughout Azeroth and Outland of couples from different races such as Rhonin and Vereesa at the Violet Citadel in Dalaran.  Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner who bore a child named Arator the Redeemer. Arator may be found at the Honor Hold Inn in Hellfire Peninsula. The love affair of Turalyon and Alleria was told in detail by Christie Golden in World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal (Pocket Star Books).

Admiral Proudmoore had an affair with a high elf and was father of Finnall Goldensword. Sadly, she hasn’t been added to the MMO yet. She was first introduced in the Alliance & Horde Compendium

Wintergrasp Fix And Other Patch 3.0.8 Issues

The patch 3.0.8 introduced a few bugs that Blizzard was aware of and communicated during its release, but one bug they probably didn’t foresee was the server instability that affected realms. Wintergrasp was shutdown yesterday to keep realms ongoing while the developers found options to hotfix the issues forthcoming once Horde or Alliance players won. Crygil informed the issues have been, hopefully, resolved and Wintergrasp will come back after rolling restarts across all realms. Make sure to provide feedback and report any lag issues or crashes at the following forum thread.

Blizzard Quote:
Crygil: We have found a solution for instability issues that were occurring in Wintergrasp. In order for this fix to go out to all realms, we will be issuing rolling restarts during off peak hours. Once the rolling restarts have concluded we will continue to monitor Wintergrasp and realm stability closely.

Eyonix: We wanted to compile information pertaining to issues that have arisen since patch 3.0.8. We’ll update this post as new information becomes available.

New Arena Matchmaking System
Update: We have temporarily disabled all Arena matches while we investigate current rating calculation discrepancies. Further updates will be provided once we have additional information to share.

With the release of patch 3.0.8 we have implemented a new matchmaking system for arenas that will improve the overall system and help ensure that players will be matched against others of equal skill. The new matchmaking system uses a rating that you cannot see, and is separate for each of the arena brackets.

The rating changes at the end of each match are affected by this new system, and as it just came out, there may initially be some odd behavior in rating changes, but these will straighten out fairly quickly.

Battle For Wintergrasp Temporarily Disabled
Due to Wintergrasp issues affecting realm stability, the Battle for Wintergrasp has been temporarily disabled on all realms. We

Jeff Kaplan To Be GDC 2009 Speaker

imageGamasutra reports Jeff Kaplan will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC 2009) through March 23-27 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco. This keynote will help aspiring and professional game developers; and college students to experience an insight into the process of quest design and gameplay direction.


Jeff Kaplan & Medievaldragon

The Cruise Director of AZEROTH: Directed Gameplay within WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Speaker: Jeffrey Kaplan (Associate Designer, Blizzard Entertainment)
Date/Time: TBD
Track: Game Design
Format: 60-minute Lecture
Experience Level: All

Session Description
This discussion will focus on the original development of WORLD OF WARCRAFT’s quest system and how it has changed over time, with WRATH OF THE LICH KING being the latest evolution. The presentation will also include some of the guidelines and philosophies that are followed when creating WoW content. It will also be suggested how WoW’s philosophy applies to other game genres and touch on topics such as game design as it applies to story, single player, massively multiplayer, open world and constrained locale considerations.

Blizzard Entertainment’s Jeffrey Kaplan explains the guidelines and philosophies directing the creation of World of Warcraft content, and will also provide an informative look at the popular MMORPG’s “quest system and how it has changed over time, with Wrath of the Lich King being the latest evolution.”

The first scenario for the WoW: Adventure Game League!

Fantasy Flight Games invites players to embark into the latest World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game scenario: Alterac Valley. Heed the call to battle!

World of Warcraft: the Adventure Game is an exciting and fast-paced journey through the world of Azeroth for 2 to 4 players. Choose your favorite hero and embark on an epic journey from humble beginnings to immense power, battling vicious monsters, powerful overlords, and your treacherous fellow players!

Two to four players each take on the role of a Warcraft character. The base World of Warcraft Adventure Game comes with four unique and distinctive characters: Burbonn Fang the Dwarf hunter, Sandrai Darkshine the Human warlock, Sofeea Icecall the Undead mage, and Grumbaz Crowsblood the Orc warrior. Each character is depicted by his own detailed plastic figure and has his own specialized character and ability cards.

imageThe call to arms has been sounded. Will you take up arms? This first scenario in the World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game League will force you to reevaluate your tactics, as you must prove yourself worthy through combat. For more information on the league, check out this article. Once you have played, record your information (Include all of the information requested in this news article) and email it to the JR Godwin, League Administrator.

CGI Interview: The Making of Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic Trailer

I am glad I subscribed to a few CGI Animation and 3D community newsletters back in the days when I used to promote and recruit staff for the Starcraft Chronicles unofficial fan CGI film, a few years ago.  CGChannel has announced their latest interview with Blizzard Entertainment’s CGI Artists Jeff Chamberlain and Fausto De Martini to talk about the making of the Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic Trailer. This three-pages interview contains four never-seen-before pre-rendered footage video clips. The interview covers which techniques and software tools were used to create the Sindragosa frostwyrm, Arthas, Frostmourne and the special effects of Arthas sweeping away the snow to reveal the ice floor.

This interview can be a dream for those who are CGI students or aficionados, and to those who would love to join the Blizzard team at one point. It will help you know how the different teams work the pipeline. Read the full interview. Help others find this awesome interview by commenting at N4G.

Blizzard cinematics are popular in part because of the excellent animation of characters, effects and camera work. Does Blizzard use Motion Capture or other technologies to achieve this level of animation?

We’ve built a team of really strong keyframe animators, and we have always keyframed our animation—and we prefer it that way. As I said, we strive for a hyper-realistic look, so our characters proportions are way augmented from what they would be in real life. As a result, they would tend to look a bit odd if they moved like someone with normal proportions would. Keyframed animation allows us to move our characters in a stylized way that fits the overall look. Also, there’s something about the level of quality you can get from a keyframed animation compared to a motion-captured one.

We have used motion capture a lot for getting a realistic handheld feel in our cameras, and in the interest of creating more and better content, we’ve looked into using motion capture as a tool during previsualization. Having the ability to quickly try out different angles and layouts for a shot by utilizing the speed of motion capture is very compelling from a director’s viewpoint. As far as the final frames go, we plan on sticking with our stylized keyframed animation.

The reanimated corpse dragon in the Lich King cinematic is beautifully executed in its design, modeling, effects and animation. Can you tell us a little bit about the tools and techniques used in those sequences?

We approached the sequence in which Arthas raises the frost wyrm in exactly the same manner as we approach all of our projects. We start with a loose script written by a few cinematics guys: Blizzard Entertainment’s vice president of creative development Chris Metzen; and the leads from the game team. The idea then moves to storyboarding and 2D concepting. Once that’s done, we start pre-visualizing the sequence. Modeling, animation, and production tech tend to then take over for a while, generating the meat of the project. Finally, finishing (lighting and compositing), effects, and matte painting take it all home.

Wrath of the Lich King was a project with a lot of firsts in our pipeline. It was the first time we used Maya to animate and lay out every shot, the first time we rendered every shot in Renderman, and the first time we used Nuke to composite. Some other products we use are 3ds Max and Mudbox for modeling, Mirage for storyboarding, and anything we can get our hands on for effects and matte painting.

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